“A republic, if you can keep it.”
As recorded in the diary of signatory to the Constitution James McHenry, as the Constitutional Convention of 1787 concluded, the above was the response by Benjamin Franklin to a Mrs. Powell’s question, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”
The Founding Fathers had a deep appreciation for the principles and parameters upon which our constitutional republic was established, as well as a profound understanding of the challenges and limitations inherent in same.
In their wisdom, they specifically avoided the perils of a government by direct democracy whilst incorporating the principles of democracy that are in keeping with constitutional protections of our God-given rights.
In fact, the word “democracy” itself is not found in either the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution itself.
As Mrs. Powell’s question itself reveals, neither did the colonists as a whole have a desire or expectation for the affairs of governing of these United States of America to be directed via the deficiencies and perils inborn in a direct democracy.
In fact, Franklin and the other Founders were mindful of Plato’s warning in The Republic, “And so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy.”
In Federalist Paper No. 10, James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, wrote, “… [D]emocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
Madison and Franklin were far from alone in their support of a republic and disdain of a democracy.
John Adams stated, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.
Benjamin Rush was even more succinct in saying, “A simple democracy is the devil’s own government.”
In reading the writing of our nation’s Founders, it is unambiguously clear that they believed the role of government should be constrained to the protection of our natural, or God-given, rights.
Their discourses often addressed the protection of private property and the ability to be “secure within one’s person” as paramount — none of which is historically viable within the mob-rule of a direct democracy.
In contrast to the Founders’ aversion to direct democracy, Article IV, Section 4, of the U.S. Constitution guarantees “to every state in this union a republican form of government.”
Beyond the specific enumerated powers the states granted to the federal government, the states were expected to govern themselves within the limits of each state’s own constitution.
This was and is a specific repudiation of direct democracy in that in a direct democracy, there is no binding social contract, no immutable morality, no protections for the minority from the dictates of the masses; only the consequences of whatever 50 percent plus one decide to invoke from one moment to the next — tyranny of the majority.
The propensity for direct democracies to lead to tyranny in which the force of government is used to violate the God-given rights of the citizenry is why the Founders built numerous safeguards into the Constitution.
From the strict limits placed on each branch of the federal government to the electoral college, from the Bill or Rights to rigorous process required for amendments, if we would but adhere to the original intent, the Constitution itself serves as a bulwark against such tyranny.
We are currently far removed from government that adheres to our Constitution and its limits.
Though blame for this can fairly be attributed to unaccountable and power hungry bureaucrats in the executive branch, corrupt politicians in the legislative branch and a tyrannical judiciary that contemptuously portends to serve as executive, legislative, judge, jury and executioner — ultimately, the major share of responsibility resides with an uninformed and apathetic citizenry that, though we may bemoan the ills of unconstitutional government, does little of effect to ensure the health and longevity of the great American experiment.
The arc of history demonstrates that corruption, tyranny and oppression are the default. Freedom and liberty are hard work and require constant vigilance.
Hence, it is nigh to impossible to keep a constitutional republic if the citizens are lacking in virtue, indifferent, unengaged, uninformed or misinformed.
Thomas Jefferson wrote extensively upon the need for the citizens to stay informed in order to maintain the constitutional protections of our God-given liberties.
Following are just a few of his many statements on the subject:
“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; … whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights” — Jefferson to Richard Price, 1789.
“Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree” — Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 1805.
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be” — Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816.
Given that the Founders were distrustful of the propensity of government to be corrupted by corrupt men, it should be noted that the Founders in no way expected that government be the source instilling the virtues, education and information required to secure the blessings of liberty.
They were counting on the requisite principles being inculcated through families, churches, educational institutions and responsible civic organizations, as well as a free press in which competition would ultimately ensure the dissemination of truth.
Unfortunately, those who hate the entire concept of a constitutional republic built upon biblical principles that protects our God-given rights have been rapaciously pursuing their objectives while God-loving, freedom-loving Americans have, apparently, been too otherwise occupied to notice their birthright being stolen.
Those on the Left earnestly and actively work to undermine and destroy the family and biblically sound churches. Simultaneously, they assert control over our educational institutions and major media in order to propagate their America-hating, God-hating propaganda.
Hopefully, more Americans are awakening to this theft of our nation, but based on the fact that Leftists continue to dominate the agenda, most Americans are still largely ignorant of the systemic devastation wrought upon our families, our communities and our nation.
Major media (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and most print misleadia) and Big Tech (Amazon, Facebook/Instagram, Google/YouTube, Twitter, et al) especially, have blatantly gone all in on spreading lies, blocking truth and fomenting hatred in order to support their Leftist ideology.
These bastions of Leftist deceit continue to block Christian and conservative viewpoints from even being disseminated, even as they propagate the lies, hatred, censorship and calls to violence that are now so prevalent on the Left — particularly amongst Democrats, though there is no shortage of Establicans joining the witch hunts.
One need look no further than the lunacy and ignorance oft displayed by the students, faculty and administration of our nation’s educational institutions to understand that, as a nation, we have fallen woefully short when it comes to educating and informing our citizens.
Instead of providing students with mastery of the objective fundamentals of a classical education and civics, far too many “schools” have replaced reading, writing and arithmetic with the aggressive promotion of the Leftist wolves of intolerance, greed, envy, hatred, lust for power, perversity, victimhood, lies and a host of anti-virtues and ignorance masquerading under sheepskins like “fill-in-the-blank studies,” “social justice,” “diversity,” “inclusiveness” and “multiculturalism.”
Leftists’ control of most of our institutions have resulted in generations that now believe patently illogical/unscientific/immoral lies like killing babies in their mothers’ womb is “reproductive choice;” those who invade our country illegally are not both a burden and threat to law-abiding American citizens;
The entire LGBT-xyz agenda is admirable and opponents should be vilified, attacked and silenced; manmade climate change is a threat to our world and, hence, dictates relinquishing our earnings and our freedom to Leftist tyrants;
Unrestrained government and unsustainable debt can be ignored; truth, morality and even gender are no longer objective, but are whatever one decides them to be.
TO BE continued next week.
ARTHUR SMITH of Paris is a member of the local Volunteers for Freedom Tea Party. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.